Case Study of the Month - August
Inspired by the Wickhambrook
Land Cost: £525,000 included existing bungalow
Build Cost: £759,000 - built to extremely high specification
Current Value: £1.5-1.7m
For 30 years, Practice Nurse Loveday Ellis and her husband Professor Brian Ellis, were working in London and living in Surrey. Although for 5 years they had been considering building their own home and during 3 of those years they read self build magazines to gain as much information and knowledge as they could.
The house they were living in was on a large plot and its sale to local developers came as no surprise as there was obvious potential for them to build 2 houses. So with their property sold, Loveday and Brian rented a house in Hampshire while they looked for a plot and continued their research on self build.
Around 3-4 months later they learnt about a plot from an estate agent in Stockbridge, Hampshire. The plot was 0.85 of an acre, in a quiet pretty rural village. It had an existing bungalow on it and a lapsed planning permission for a 4 bedroom, two storey house. The plot was just perfect and was purchased by the couple in January 2014 for £525,000.
inspiration from a live build
Convinced by reading about the logic of self build in respect of value for money, and actually getting the house they wanted, they came across Potton in one of the magazines and took their first trip to Potton’s self build centre at St Neots near Cambridge. Here they immediately liked the Potton Wickhambrook barn that was under construction at the time.
Following this the couple took advantage of Potton’s self build open events surrounding the building of the Wickhambrook, and were able to learn a lot about the different stages of the build over number of visits. They also attended a self build seminar at Potton’s head office where they took a tour of the factory.
“All of this proved really worthwhile and gave us a good insight to the build process and the company itself” said Brian, “we were received very warmly by the Potton staff each time we visited the centre and advice and information was freely available without us feeling pressurised or followed around.”
Their final visit was to see the completed barn where they developed firm ideas of just what they wanted to incorporate, or modify, on their own Wickhambrook Barn. To this end they worked with Sean Adams who helped them achieve their main aims, which were to orientate the house in a way that it would actually be a mirror image of the original at St Neots. They also changed the utility room and plant room layouts and increased the size of bedrooms, 1, 3 and 4 as well as the sitting room.
“This brought the house up to 3169 square feet or 295 square metres” says Brian
Sean Adams then finalised the couples requirements, came up with the design which they were happy with and then submitted the detailed planning application. The local Test Valley planning department had no objections and planning was passed even though the house was 45% larger than the existing bungalow, although there were some problems with landscaping which were later resolved.
the build commences
Brian had originally intended to project manage the build and had in fact built a site office where he planned to run things on a daily basis, however due to an unsuspected illness and a course of regular treatment that was to last for 6 months, the couple decided that it would make sense to employ a builder to carry out all of the work.
“This turned out to be the right decision and we appointed a construction management company to run the whole project” said Brian “for us the deciding factor was the builder’s idea that we should have regular weekly site meetings to assess progress, so once I had finished my treatment I could make regular visits to site…and make good use of the site office!”
The build started in September 2014. Loveday and Brian, having done their homework in the early days, knew almost everything that they wanted to incorporate into the build. They chose an air source heat pump to power the underfloor heating and 4 KW photo voltaic panels that sit very unobtrusively within the slate roof on the garage.
Once the build got underway the couple started to consider landscaping and having the benefit of selling their previous house to developers, managed to get approval to remove as many plants and shrubs from the site as they wanted. They also employed a local landscape designer who not only came up with a simple and elegant design, but was able to remove 5 van loads of mature shrubs and plants from the old garden and work with a small local company of landscape contractors who managed to turn the site into a blank canvas for the plants men.
By August 2015 the couple were able to move in to their stunning new home despite the fact that the builders were still on site adding the final finishing touches and the bathrooms were not finished until the end of their first day in.
To sum up
Both Loveday and Brian are absolutely delighted with their new home, the service they received from Potton including the excellent help and advice from Sean Adams. “We found everyone at Potton to be courteous and helpful” says Loveday.
Brian says “our biggest thrill was seeing the Potton timber frame being erected, we might even consider doing it again sometime, who knows! Although one thing I would do differently is to photograph every room before it is plaster boarded to see exactly where cables run”
Loveday and Brian budgeted £1.25m for the plot and the build.
A birds eye view